Jeremy Lin led a timely bench effort the Charlotte Hornets deeply needed — and Lin’s aggressive play kept the Hornets secure in their place as the NBA’s surprise team of the season. With a powerful 123-99 win over the Grizzlies, sparked by Lin after a slow start, the Hornets moved to 14-8, second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Lin scored 16 points, less than half of Kemba Walker’s 33, but Lin’s play in the second quarter reversed the momentum. The Hornets are on a four game win streak, and have won eight of their last ten. They are getting big contributions from different players every night.
Against the Grizzlies, Lin showed what he does best — and what makes him such a tough cover. Lin repeatedly attacked the basket and drew fouls, capitalizing at the line, creating space for teammates and putting Memphis in foul trouble. Lin — when he’s penetrating — is a triple threat that allows the Hornets to play the small ball style the entire league is moving toward — a la Golden State. When Walker’s doing the same, the Hornets look like playoff contenders. Lin’s +/- was +25, highest of any Hornets player. He got to the line seven times, making six.